After a fairly even first half the Young Lions led thanks to Lewis, but a rampant display after the restart ensured a deserved victory for the hosts at AFC Telford on Wednesday.
The last time this group had been together they were celebrating silverware after winning the U16s Montaigu Tournament in April, and they continued their fine form in their opening fixture of the UEFA International Tournament.
England 3-0 Italy
U17s UEFA International Tournament
Wednesday 26 August 2015
New Bucks Head Stadium, AFC Telford
They began well with Jaden Brown showing good pace early doors to whizz past the opposition right-back and whip a cross in towards the front post, but the onrushing Niall Ennis could not direct his header on target.
England found joy down the left again, Lewis providing a fantastic low ball across goal that took the keeper and defence out of the game. Mackenzie Heaney raced in to tap home, but Alessandro Bastoni saved the Azzurrini with a brilliant block on the line.
The visitors grew frustrated as they conceded a series of free-kicks, with Bastoni’s name going into the referee’s notebook for grieving his displeasure after one particular decision.
Lone forward Gianluca Scamacca attempted two long-rangers that failed to trouble Derby County stopper Matthew Yates in the home net before he tamely headed a cross wide as the visitors began to see more of the ball.
As the half reached the 30-minute point Italy thought they had taken the lead. A corner was sent deep from the left towards the back post for skipper Alessio Militari to rise and head past a sea of bodies, but Diallo was on hand to head clear off the line for Cooper’s side.
And it proved to be a vital moment for the Young Lions as they took the lead five minutes later.
Ipswich Town’s Andre Dozzell collected the ball down the right and rolled it back from near the corner to the edge of the box. Liverpool attacker Adam Lewis opened up his body well to send a powerful sidefooted effort right into the top left-hand corner.
England could have doubled their advantage moments later. Ennis pounced on some hesitant defending as he nicked the ball and powered past two defenders on halfway and through on goal.
Italy's defence did well to recover, and as he reached the box they managed to snuff out the attack as the Wolves youngster shot, although team-mate Heaney was open to his right and perhaps could have been better-placed to finish.
Two changes were made by the hosts at the break, attacker Samuel Shashoua of Tottenham Hotspur coming on for Lewis and left-back Vashon Neufille of West Ham United for Francis, and the fresh legs seemed to have an instant impact as England began brightly.
They probed the ball around the pitch with confidence, teasing Italy out from the back before using the trickery of Shashoua, Ennis and Heaney to break through.
The latter was unlucky not to grab a second when he cut the ball back on the corner of the box and curled a fine effort off the outside of the post.
Italy struggled to clear the ball away from that attack, and within seconds Shashoua’s trickery had the opposition hacking at him in the penalty area. Diallo stepped up and slotted home from the spot
Five minutes later it was three as Spurs youngster Bennetts was felled inside the area. Diallo strode forward again and placed the ball in exactly the same spot for his second.
England had survived a mini-scare in-between the goals after Yates was adjudged to have handled a backpass. But the Derby shotstopper stood up well to block the effort from 12 yards before his defence bravely repelled the attempted rebounds.
There was a turn and shot from Andrea Pinamonti that Yates handled well too, but in fairness, that was as much joy as the visitors had second half as they looked nervous every time England broke forward.
England are next in action on Friday afternoon in Walsall, taking on a Turkey side who were defeated 2-0 by Portugal earlier on Wednesday.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Matthew Yates (Derby County); 2 Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea), 17 Jordan Williams (Huddersfield), 6 Edward Francis (Manchester City), 5 Jaden Brown (Tottenham Hotspur); 4 Sadou Diallo (Manchester City), 8 Andre Dozzell (Ipswich Town); 15 Mackenzie Heaney (Newcastle United), 10 Adam Lewis (Liverpool), 11 Keanan Bennetts (Tottenham Hotspur); 9 Niall Ennis (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Subs: 19 Samuel Shashoua (Tottenham Hotspur) for Lewis 41, 3 Vashon Neufille (West Ham United) for Francis 41, 16 Diego Lattie (Manchester City) for Chalobah 62, 12 Elliot Embleton (Sunderland) for Dozzell 62, 14 Charlie Gilmour (Arsenal) for Diallo 74, 18 Tyrese Campbell (Manchester City) for Brown 74, 7 Jonathan Leko (West Bromwich Albion) for Bennetts 74
Subs not used: 13 Nicholas Hayes (Ipswich Town),
Goals: Lewis 35, Diallo 50, 55
Head coach: Steve Cooper
Italy (4-3-2-1): 1 Stefano Greco; 3 Edoardo Bianchi, 6 Matteo Gabbia, 2 Alessandro Bastoni, 7 Allessandro Tripaldelli; 10 Alessandro Mallamo, 9 Andrea Marcucci, 11 Alessio Militari (C); 17 Christian Capone, 16 Andrea Pinamonti; 18 Gianluca Scamacca
Subs: 15 Alessandro Carnicelli for Scamacca 48, 5 Federico Valietti for Bianchi 58, 14 Marco Olivieri for Pinamonti 79
Subs not used: 12 Giacomo Satalino, 4 Luca Ranieri, 8 Mirko Antonucci, 13 Francesco Giunta, 15 Alessandro Carnicelli
Head coach: Alessandro Dal Canto